There are over 50 museums in San Francisco, CA. Being a diverse hub of arts and culture, SF is home to some of the best museums in the world. And this list includes several art museums, history museums, science museums, ethnic museums, maritime museums, and so many other types of unique museums. Full of outstanding collection and utmost significance, these museums in San Francisco, CA are surely visit-worthy if you love exploring history, art, culture, and want to learn about everything in deep.
There are free museums, unique quirky museums like museums that are completely devoted to ice creams – San Fran has fascinating arrays of museums that are enough to allure each and everyone in your family. So if you are planning a trip to this gleaming city in Northern California, manage some time and go visit the best of the museums in San Francisco, CA. Want a handy guide to decide on the ones you want to visit. Check out the list below to get an idea of the best museums that the city has to offer.
Best Museums In San Francisco, CA That You Must Visit:
Legion Of Honor:
Formerly known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, this museum is a part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This is basically an art museum whose collection even dates back to 2,000 BC. Here you get to see a massive collection that mainly focuses on ancient and European art up to the most recent time. Paintings, carvings, sculptures, decorative arts, and different works on paper – it can take up to several hours to complete exploring all the collection that the museum has.
California Academy Of Sciences:
A research institute and a natural history museum in SF that is also among the largest museums of natural history in the world, the California Academy of Sciences is a must-visit for everyone. This science museum has a distinct green roof that makes it so much more attractive architecture-wise. It is California’s oldest operating museum and research institution for the natural sciences and has some separate exhibition areas. There is Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium – a digital planetarium dome, a rainforest exhibit, and also an aquarium named Steinhart Aquarium. The museum aims at exploring, explaining, and sustaining life by conducting research programs, educational programs, and sustainable innovation.
San Francisco Maritime Museum:
San Francisco Maritime Museum is a part of San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and is the place where one gets to see a spectacular fleet of historic ships that are moored at the park’s Hyde Street Pier. The museum was built in 1939 and the interior of the museum is all decked up with wonderful murals and paintings. The park locates in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood and the museum is one of the best museums in San Francisco, CA that you must visit.
Walt Disney Family Museum:
Located in The Presidio of San Francisco which is a part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, Walt Disney Family Museum is fully dedicated to the life and legacy of Walt Disney. This 40,000 square foot museum shows everything from the childhood days of the legend to his days of Disneyland construction and all his achievements that he made in his life. Interactive galleries show his early drawings and animation, music, movies, and also a 12-feet diameter model of Disneyland. Locating in the northern part of the city, this museum is a true delight for the true Disney lovers.
Museum Of African Diaspora:
MoAD or Museum of African Diaspora focuses on documenting the history, art, culture, life, and chronological migration of the African diaspora throughout the world from ancient times to modern times. This is a fine arts museum and locates in the Yerba Buena District. The museum’s art exhibitions have showcased many South African art, carnivals, and also a photo exhibit of Jimi Hendrix.
When in San Francisco, California, visit the historic Embarcadero along with Exploratorium to enjoy a full day amidst the fun. Exploratorium at Pier 15 is located in the Marina District at the Palace of Fine Arts and is a science museum that will enchant both children and adults. It houses more than 650 hands-on exhibits and a whole lot of indoor and outdoor exhibitions. On the weekends, the museum organizes many programs such as Explorables, Saturday Cinema, or Full-Spectrum Science. Your children will enjoy spending time here as they get to take part in many amazing activities and experiments.
Aquarium Of The Bay:
Locating conveniently on Pier 39, this public aquarium is the perfect place to visit if you want to have a personal encounter with the marine life. The diversity of North California aquatic life can easily be witnessed here. There is a 300 ft crystal clear acrylic tunnel that contains hundreds of thousands of gallons of Bay water and gives you a scuba diver’s view of about 20,000 marine animals. The marine exhibit contains a giant Pacific octopus too. In the Touch the Bay exhibit, be able to touch rays, sea stars, and sharks. This is one of the best marine museums in San Francisco, CA that one must visit.
Children’s Creativity Museum:
The kids in your group would love to spend some time amidst fun while they visit this interactive museum. The museum is aimed at building creative confidence in your kids through many interactive displays that make your kids learn about music, animation, and many more creative things. Kids aged between 2 to 12 will really love this place and they will get the opportunity to nourish their creativity and critical thinking.
Locating at Pier 45 at the end of Taylor Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, this museum is so unique in the sense that it looks more like a gaming arcade than a museum. At this museum cum hands-on arcade, you will see one of the world’s largest privately-owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and many antique arcade machines. It owns over 300 mechanical machines and you can enter the museum for free. But if you are willing to play any game here, you must pay for that. The collection of the mechanical museum includes automatic music boxes, fortune-tellers, many video games, self-playing pianos, photo booths, pinball machines, and many more. One of the best museums in San Francisco, CA to visit to spend some time amidst fun and frolic.
Asian Art Museum:
One of the best museums in San Francisco, CA this art museum exhibits one of the largest collections of Asian art in the world. It has more than 18,000 works of art in its collection some of which are as much as 6,000 years old. There are separate galleries for the arts of South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and Iran. Some of the major attractions of the museum include age-old Buddhist and Hindu art, shipped and rebuilt Japanese tea house from Japan, a Tibetan drawing of Mahakala, displayed Samurai armor, and many things more.
The Interval At Long Now:
The concept of this museum is really unique. This is a café cum bar cum museum where you can enjoy your craft cocktail while admiring and enjoying the wonderful collection of books, ideas, and mechanical wonders the place has. The floor-to-ceiling library is full of outstanding books that are all you need to start a new civilization, like literally. The collection of artefacts keep evolving in real-time and you get to nourish your brain with all of this good stuff along with artisan drinks. One of the most treasured museums in San Francisco, CA that everyone with a different taste must visit.
Museum Of Ice Cream:
An interactive ice-crème museum that with the help of imaginative, multi-sensory installations makes your dream of indulging in your favorite scoop of ice cream come true. Get to taste your favorite scoop of ice cream at the Perfectly Pink Ice Cream Parlor, play your heart out in the Sprinkle Pool, and obviously do not forget to click fantastic pictures of you holding your tastiest scoop of ice cream in hand. It is surely one of the loveliest and yummiest museums in San Francisco, CA that satisfies your eyes, stomach, and mind. The museum also organizes in-person workshops that teach you to create your own ice cream.
Cable Car Museum:
Learn about the actual mechanism of how a cable car works when you visit this one of its kind museums. If you have an interest in the transport system and especially want to know about cable cars, their history, technology, and the history of transport in SF, this museum is a must-visit for you. How the cable car system started n 1873, how it went through many challenges, expansion phases, and how it maintains to go strong till date – the museum is such a wonderful place to learn every bit of the cable car heritage.
Cartoon Art Museum:
Know about the art and science of comics and cartoons when you visit this unique cartoon museum that locates at 781 Beach St, San Francisco. The place is super fun and apart from learning about the evolution of many of your favorite cartoon characters you also get to try your hands on making your own comic strip and other animations. The museum in its permanent collection of nearly 7,000 works contains brilliant illustration works by Wally Wood, Edward Gorey, Robert Crumb, Chuck Jones, Roz Chast.
Museums in San Francisco, CA are unending. Their diversity and rich collection are sure to move you and you are sure to appreciate the artworks, installations, and collection they have. Museums make you learned about so many subjects and you get an answer to your curiosity. Apart from the above-listed ones, the city also has many more. De Young Museum gives you a clear insight into the country’s history and vibrant culture. Apart from the traditional museums, the city also houses the quirkiest of the museums like the Good Vibrations Antique Vibrator Museum whose massive collection honors the vibrator history that dates back to the Victorian Era. American Bookbinders Museum, Beat Museum, ethnic museums like the Chinese Culture Center and Contemporary Jewish Museum – the city has a museum for every subject you can think of. Visit them, learn new things, and get amazed.